I have always been a fan of both shows. I just never came forward. I agreed with people who defended Elementary for the few years it has been here. For all the bad publicity it got, it was it’s own show and stood out from the BBC take. However, seeing last night’s Sherlock episode get positive reviews when it isn’t what attracted me to the show proves the media is way too forgiving just because Benedict Cumberbatch stars in it. Why do I feel strongly about this? Sherlock is following the path Elementary set from the very beginning. Creating unique plots and characters for the show to keep it going.
Elementary critics have always done what I am doing now (which is comparing the two). It is only natural. Both shows take characters from the novels and place them in modern settings. When you ask people who only follow the BBC version however, the answer they will normally give you is “they Americanized it”. I understand criticisms about making John Watson female, maybe it is just because I watch anime all the time is why this doesn’t bother me. How I currently understand the Americanized argument is, it is absolutely disgraceful for Elementary writers to throw their own twists and takes on the Sherlock franchise, but it is great entertainment when Sherlock writers to feed us the ludicrous confusing nonsense they gave us last night.
I admit I had my doubts about taking the modern Sherlock and throwing them into the era they were intended to be. I pictured the characters acting like they do in the way they do in the show (hint: BBC Sherlock had a touch about his character the older one didn’t have) but in the old era. I could not see it working well. I was pointed out to constantly be picking holes in it every time a new scene came along. It was noted by someone that it has only been 5 minutes and I cannot accept the style. The same person said later “its still only 15 minutes”, but as the episode got increasingly more ridiculous the channel was changed just half way through. This episode kept blowing away all my expectations. Not in a good way though. This was the darkest Sherlock episode by far and it was too scary for us to sit through last night. So we decided to watch in the morning. Not only did this episode get increasingly scary from the maze part it got more and more confusing.
The second I heard about the bride walking dead (about 20 minutes into it) I immediately thought “is this like that Elelmentary episode with the sister in the hospital?” I was thinking the entire time “so Elementary was criticized by these Sherlock believers and yet they might be doing a plot device that Elementary used at the start of the first series. And Sherlock fans praise the originality and brilliance of the show?” It turned out I was wrong about the exact direction of the plot (it isn’t like Elementary) but it also proved people have been way too hard on Elementary for doing this kind of thing from the very beginning. It also shows Elementary was actually ahead of the curve in that respect. Sherlock is using it’s own stories and characters because the writers are quickly running out of novels to adapt in the modern times.
I will not post spoilers about The Abominable Bride in case people haven’t seen it. I will say it just got darker and more confusing as it went on. We felt we made the right call by watching this morning and we couldn’t keep up with where it was going when things started to get revealed. It is a lot more confusing then the 9 brilliant episodes that preceded it. This was by far the worst Sherlock episode I have seen and it felt like a completely different show to the one that hooked me in the first place. Many of Elementary’s best episodes topped this. Now I will throw people a bone into getting their Sherlock fix and advise you put your purist to the side and give Elementary a chance.
My first impression of Elementary was it was more like Life on Mars but with a few Sherlock characters as well as it’s own unique characters. It focused more on Sherlock’s drug addiction then the BBC one did. It had some really funny episodes (you have to see the start of the bank vault) but it didn’t feel like Sherlock to me. That is until episode 12 came along. Sherlock was followed to New York by a cunning murderer who always evaded London police. M. I will not say anymore from here because I don’t want to spoil one of the most unforgettable plot twists of the Sherlock franchise. What I will say is this is the point where I started to get hooked (I was hooked on the bank one in reality). Moriarty was coming into it. It was starting to feel more like a homage to the ACD novels. Until this point I was concerned only Watson and Sherlock were the key characters. Now I had confirmation Moriarty was here as well (and he isn’t the only one revealed in this episode) I was starting to enjoy it as a Sherlock fan and not just an Elementary fan. There are also several novel characters that appeared in Elementary before they made their BBC debut. It is true the people behind Elementary are throwing bones to Sherlock fans as well. The series ends with a twist that will either make you love the audacity the show or make you hate it for ruining the vision you had of the franchise.
If you are among the latter you should go and watch Elementary a second time and reflect on the twist after watching last night’s Sherlock. The Abominable Bride was so far apart with what made me love the show that it doesn’t make the ending for Elementary series 1 seem so bad anymore. If you haven’t seen Elementary I suggest you give it a whirl at least until the end of episode 12. The thing about Elementary now is while Sherlock exclusive fans criticized it at the time of release it isn’t so far apart from the ideas the BBC version threw out last night. If you are still watching Sherlock after last night you may as well watch Elementary because both are doing the same thing now and using the novel characters with their own stories. After last night’s awful performance the argument the BBC fans had against Elementary is gone. Trust me. I have followed both from the start. The style of Steven Moffat’s character quirks don’t fit the old times and making the episode a dark ghost story was the completely wrong way to go about it. Neither version is historically accurate to the novels anyway so what have Elementary critics got to lose by diving in and giving it a chance?